First Published: 2012-01-03

 

Offshoot of Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb declares war on France

 

Mauritanian Hamada Ould Mohamed Kheirou, presumed leader of armed Islamist group active in West Africa, threatens France with war.

 

Middle East Online

Six French nationals are held hostage in Sahel

BAMAKO - The Mauritanian Hamada Ould Mohamed Kheirou, presumed leader of an armed Islamist group active in West Africa, has again threatened France with war in a video seen Tuesday by a journalist.

"We again declare war on France, which is hostile to the interests of Islam," Kheirou said in Arabic, wearing dark glasses and with his head wrapped in a turban. "The jihad (holy war) will be exported everywhere it is necessary and for God, we must be ready for anything."

The video also showed images of three Westerners -- a Spanish man and woman and an Italian woman - who were kidnapped late in October in a camp for Sahrawi refugees near Tindouf in southern Algeria.

That kidnapping was claimed by Kheirou's Movement for Unity and Justice in West Africa, which then emerged as a breakaway group from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which originated in Algeria and now has bases in northern Mali.

The last part of the video was concerned with the ideology of the group and its ambitions, particularly "to impose sharia (Islamic law) across the whole of west Africa." Young black fighters were shown calling for "pure and tough" Islam.

Mauritania last week issued an international arrest warrant against Kheirou, also known as Abou Qumqum. The mandate also targetted three other Mauritanians, including Moustapha Ould Limam Chafi, an influential man in west Africa who has notably negotiated the release of Western hostages by AQIM.

All four men are accused of being "influential members" of AQIM, of financing terrorism and of supporting terrorist groups in the Sahel strip of northwest African nations on the southern edge of the Sahara.

This zone is difficult to patrol and monitor and AQIM has carried out many attacks on troops, kidnappings of Westerners and traffic of various kinds, including drugs.

Twelve Europeans, including six French nationals, are currently held hostage in the Sahel.

 

Netanyahu faces mounting pressure over holy site

Erdogan holds talks with Gulf leaders on Qatar crisis

Iran gets more involved in Iraq militarily

Two Jordanians killed at Israeli embassy in Amman

600,000 Yemenis expected to contract cholera in 2017

EU warns Turkey economy at risk in Germany row

Saudi crown prince takes temporary charge

Israel strikes Gaza after missile across border

Hezbollah says fight on Syria border ‘nearing end’

Staff of Turkey opposition paper stand trial

Trump aide due in Israel to ease holy site tensions

Tehran’s judiciary chief accuses US of jailing innocent Iranians

Palestinian arrested after attack in Tel Aviv

Maghreb future is tied to resolving Western Sahara conflict

MENA countries particularly vulnerable to climate change

UN-backed Libya PM to meet eastern strongman near Paris

Saudi Arabia and allies insist demands non-negotiable as GCC crisis continues

Arab League accuses Israel of 'playing with fire' at holy site

Erdogan seeks to defuse standoff around Turkey’s Qatar

Syria warplanes strike near Damascus despite ceasefire

US warns Iran over imprisoned Americans

Kuwait protests to Lebanon over Hezbollah training

30 extremists in Sinai operations

Three Palestinians shot dead in Jerusalem

Nearly 360 injured in Turkey by magnitude 6.7 quake

UN says Saudi to blame for deadly Yemen strike on civilians

Police fire tear gas to disperse Morocco protest

Germany reviews arms sales to Turkey

Hezbollah launches Syria border operation

China calls for Gulf crisis talks

Israel bars men under 50 from Jerusalem Old City prayers

Intensifying Jihadist-rebel clashes in Syria's Idlib

Saudi King sets up new state security agency

Rebel ambush kills 28 regime fighters near Damascus

Turkey slams 'dangerous' Cyprus energy plans

Saudi prince 'arrested over leaked abuse videos'

Israel boosts 'security measures' as Al-Aqsa tensions simmer

Kuwait expels Iranian diplomats over 'terror' cell

Germany vows to overhaul Turkey ties as row escalates

Home cooked meals a relief for fighters in Syria's Raqa

US maintains designation of Iran as top 'state sponsor'

US halting support for Syria rebels

30 civilians dead in anti-IS strikes in Syria

Palestinian civilians urge ICC to speed up probe

Turkey PM opts for stability in light cabinet reshuffle